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AU snubs Mugabe in EU fight

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ADDIS ABABA – The African Union (AU) Commission on Friday defied calls from one of its organs advising member-countries to boycott the fourth EU-Africa Summit scheduled for April 2 to 3.

AU’s decision is a blow to President Robert Mugabe who has been trying to influence African leaders to boycott the summit after his wife Grace was denied a visa to accompany him to Belgium.

The AU Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) had on Wednesday resolved to advise the heads of State and government to boycott the event.

The event is scheduled for Brussels in Belgium.

The PRC members’ decision was in reaction to European Union’s violation of an AU resolution by determining the composition of Africa’s delegation to the summit.

The PRC, in its resolutions, recommended to all member-states not to attend the summit as EU cannot determine Africa’s delegation.

Members of the PRC, which comprised ambassadors and representatives of regional bodies, had urged the EU Commission to extend its invitations to all African heads of States.

They said the exception should be in the case of those under AU sanction.

The EU Commission, however, ignored the call and barred Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir, from attending the summit.

The EU, however, invited Egypt, which is currently under AU sanctions, and Morocco, which withdrew from AU activities in 1984, to attend the summit.

It also declined to invite Eritrea, a member of the AU with no clear reason.

However, AU Commission deputy chairperson Eratus Mwencha on Friday addressed journalists on the preparations for the summit.

He said the AU Commission had concluded arrangements to attend the summit to address issues of interest to both continents.

Mwencha, who briefed journalists alongside Gary Quine, the EU head of delegation to the AU, said the fourth summit would consolidate on the trade co-operation between the two continents.

“The trade relations between the two unions currently stand at ₣251 billion and needed to be promoted to attract more foreign direct investment and address other funding gaps to Africa.

“The summit will also resolve on efforts to tackle the challenges of global warming, environmental issues and technology transfer to fast track Africa’s development,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mugabe had signalled that he would skip the summit if the EU does not grant his wife a visa.

“We are sovereign and equals and the EU cannot decide on our delegations. The president, and Zimbabwe will not be there if they continue to hold out on the visa,” his spokesman George Charamba said on Friday.

– NAN

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